RUMFORD – The downtown revitalization effort got a boost Monday when Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins announced a $200,000 grant to be used for making improvements to housing on Congress and Waldo streets.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge and Rosie Bradley, executive director of the River Valley Growth Council, have been working to secure the funding for about a year.

Bradley said Monday afternoon that the funds will likely go toward developing a plan and feasibility study of needed housing improvements. She said the money could also be used as matching funds, and to help eliminate substandard housing.

She said a search will go out to find other grants to help improve housing.

“This grant will make a good start,” she said.

Eldridge said some of the money may be used to make improvements to empty apartments as well as to make others handicapped accessible.

Both Eldridge and Bradley said plans call for working with Community Concepts, Coastal Enterprises and other agencies for the upgrading of housing stock, something believed to be important to economic rejuvenation.

A Downtown Revitalization Committee was formed more than a year ago to find ways to improve the economy, appearance and marketing of the town, focusing primarily on Congress and Market streets. The group meets monthly and is working on new street lighting, a downtown logo and a slogan.

The $200,000 grant is part of the U.S. Senate’s 2007 Transportation, Judiciary, Housing and Urban Development spending bill. Maine will receive $7.6 million from the bill.

Other area projects receiving funds include $200,000 for Community Concepts in Lewiston to help build a facility for the agency and $200,000 for a waterfront redevelopment project in Gardiner.

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